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More about those standardized CPS tests...

Chicago Public Schools is cutting back on some of its standardized tests. Making sense of which ones are going and which are staying and when — and what they mean — took me a good part of the day:

Kindergartners, first graders and second graders no longer have to take the NWEA MPG (Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress for Primary Grades) test in spring and fall, though their schools must choose from a list of assessments to monitor these primary students’ literacy. Second graders will join third through eighth graders to take the NWEA MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test aligned to the Common Core curriculum in spring but no longer in the fall, too. Eighth graders will also skip the EXPLORE test given in preparation for the ACT in 11th grade. And ninth through 11th graders will also sit for the spring session of the EPAS (Explore, Plan, ACT) test, skipping a fall session.

Most of the reductions come from eliminating fall testing sessions, and leaving spring ones in place. The district, counting each grade given a test as one test, calls it a reduction by 15 tests from 25 last year to 10 starting in the 2013-14 school year. But overall, four tests out of nine required by the district have been eliminated: the MPG for K-2, the fall MAP session for 3-8, EXPLORE for 8th graders and the fall EPAS for 9-11.

State requirements aren’t affected, so all third through 8th graders will still take the state-required Illinois Standard Achievement test, 11th graders will take the Prairie State Achievement Examination, or in the cases of students with significant learning disabilities, the Illinois Alternate Assessment and of English Language Learners, the ACCESS test.

Confused yet?

Here’s a bit more about each of the tests in question, thanks to information collected from CPS, PURE, Raise Your Hand and the Illinois State Board of Education:

  • ACCESS for English Language Learners — the state standardized test for English Language Learners given once a year, designed to measure English language learners’ social and academic proficiency in English. It assesses social and instructional English as well as the language associated with language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies within the school context across the four language domains. (Illinois required for K-12 ELL)
  • BAS (Benchmark Assessment System) Common Core benchmarks taken three times a year for monitor growth and progress in literacy. (CPS optional for K-2)
  • DIBELS The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills are a set of procedures and measures for assessing the acquisition of early literacy skills from kindergarten through sixth grade. They are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of early literacy and early reading skills. DIBELS were designed for use in identifying children experiencing difficulty in acquisition of basic early literacy skills in order to provide support early and prevent the occurrence of later reading difficulties. (CPS optional for K-2)
  • EPAS (EXPLORE in Grade 9, PLAN in Grade 10, and ACT in Grade 11) will be administered at the beginning and end of the school year. Student growth will be based on the difference in score between these pre- and post-tests. (CPS required 9-11)
  • EXPLORE contains four curriculum-based assessments: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The assessment is based on the major areas of high school and postsecondary instructional programs and measures the skills and knowledge needed for college success. Additionally, EXPLORE includes a career exploration component that stimulates students’ thinking about future plans and relates personal characteristics to career options. (CPS required for 9)
  • IAA (Illinois Alternative Assessments) is the yardstick the state uses to measure the learning of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities and uses on demand tasks aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards. The IAA is based on alternate achievement standards in reading, mathematics, science and writing at the grades corresponding to ISAT and PSAE. (Illinois required 3-8 and 11)
  • ISAT (Illinois Standards Achievement Test) measures the achievement of students in reading and mathematics in grades three through eight and science in grades four and seven. (Illinois required for grades 3-8 )
  • ISEL (Illinois Snapshots of Early Literacy) are sets of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development for grades K, 1, and 2. They consist of brief measures of performance which can be used to regularly monitor the development of early literacy skills. (CPS option for K-2).
  • mClass Math is early assessment software combined with universal screening and progress monitoring. (CPS optional for K-2)
  • NWEA MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) meausres whether students are meeting grade-level learning and year-to-year growth expectations. Factor in teacher, principal and school evaluations. (CPS required for 2-8)
  • NWEA MPG essentially the MAP for primary grades. (CPS optional for K-2)
  • PSAE (Prairie State Achievement Examination) measures the achievement of grade 11 students in reading, mathematics, and science. The spring 2013 PSAE included three components: (1) the ACT, which includes the ACT battery of four multiple-choice tests (English, mathematics, reading, and science), (2) an ISBE-developed science assessment, and (3) Applied Mathematics and Reading for Information. ACT growth a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluation. (Illinois required for 11)
  • REACH Performance Tasks are the primary way to measure growth for teachers who do not teach traditionally tested subjects and grades, and feed into that teacher’s evaluation. A performance task is used to assess demonstration of mastery, or progress towards mastery, of a particular skill or standard determined most critical in the course of an academic year (or student learning objective). Growth in performance will be measured by subtracting a student’s performance on the beginning-of-year PT pre-test from his/her performance on the end of year PT post-test. (CPS required for K-12)
  • STAR Used in place of NWEA or EPAS to measure growth of students in Alternative Schools; also a factor in teacher, principal and school evaluations. (CPS required for 7-12)
  • STEP Literacy Assessment is a developmental literacy assessment, instructional tool, and data management system that defines the pathway and tracks the progress of pre-kindergarten through third grade students as they learn to read using research-based milestones, developed by the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute. (CPS optional for K-2)
  • TRC (Text Reading Comprehension) (CPS optional for K-2)